A wall of calving glacier sheared off and a chunk the size of Walmart thundered into the ocean creating a wave over twenty feet high!
We’d been anchored in a place called Three Hole Bay for the past 5 days after throwing a bearing in the motor 40 miles out at sea. Our captain had hitched a ride with another boat who’d luckily come across our disabled ship, and would be gone for another 24 hours. He needed to get find another boat powerful enough to tow our broken vessel back to the docks. Having been stranded in the location for almost a week, cabin fever was starting to set in. Almost in unison, the three of us looked at each other and said; “Hey, we’ve got 24 hours! Let’s inflate the 14 foot hypalon Zodiac, throw on our 25 horse motor, and launch it over the side of the bow. If our calculations are correct, we should be able navigate the twelve miles across Aialik Bay to Holgate Glacier in a little over forty minutes.” It sounded like an OK idea as the skies were clear and we had enough gas for the trip. The three of us grabbed our fishing poles, camera gear, some snacks and set out across the 12 miles stretch of ocean.
The journey over was fairly flat and we were able to get the Zodiac up on step for most of the trip. Some forty-five minutes later we were approaching Holgate Glacier in the Kenai Fjords. The steep mountains along the fjord were alive with the toes of ancient glaciers snaking down through valleys of cut, grey stone. Water falls flowed from beneath their blue tips and careened into the green/blue ocean below. Birds had nests on these steep rock faces and their singing echoed throughout the rock cliffs.
As we rounded a curve in the fjord, a massive ice flow began drifting beside our inflatable boat. There, climbing over 500 feet skyward in front of us was the face of Holgate Glacier. We were still over a mile away, but it was almost as if you could reach out and touch it.
Within a half mile of the glacier, we shut off the motor and paddled our way through ice chunks, some as big as pickup trucks and La-Z-Boy recliners, and made our way to a rock island about 100 feet in length about a tenth of a mile from the glacier face. We decided this would be a safe location to film in case the glacier started calving.
There were no trees to tie up on, only loose rock we could loop our rope around. It never occurred to us that placing the anchor in between two boulders would have been a better choice. Live and learn.
The journey to the top of the rock island took several minutes as we had to find secure footing, climb ledges, lift gear and look for a killer spot to set up camera. Once on top the view was as good as anything I’ve ever witnessed.
My friend, Wade, was great in front of the camera. He’d filmed all over the world in some of the deadliest places, and his son, Reed had an eye for capturing the best nature has to offer.
Wade was standing with his back facing the glacier while being filmed by Reed. I was sitting about fifteen yards away thinking about what I’d say on camera when it came my turn. Wade was describing on camera some crazy story he’d had years before while dealing with a glacier. As he was talking, I felt this wave of urgency wash over me. “Go check your boat”.
“What,” I thought to myself. “Where did that come from?”
Several minutes later I felt this urgency wash over me once again and a voice said; “Go check your boat”.
“OK, being alone, cold and stranded is really causing my fear is to mess with me” I thought to myself. Somehow something about this felt different. Without saying a word, I stood up and began making my way across the top of the rock face. I was just starting to climb down a crevasse using finger holds we’d used on the way up when it happened. Immediately I knew this was not good.
As I had made my way out of sight of Wade and Reed, a wall of the calving glacier sheared off and a chunk the size of Walmart thundered into the ocean creating a wave over twenty feet high. I knew what the sound was instantly and began picking up the pace. When I got within ten yards of the Zodiac, the huge wave hit. It lifted the Zodiac up so high that the propeller was sticking out of the water. The water surged in front of me almost reaching my feet. As it receded, the rope that had been tied around a rock was now snaking down into the icy water away from the island. If I didn’t get that rope the raft would float away and land on some Japanese beach six months from now…and no one knew we were on this barren rock island.
I jumped into the water, plunged my arms down to where I thought the rope must be as the last foot of rope tailed against the back of my hand. I feverishly grabbed the end of the submerged rope and began stumbling backwards, tripping over partially submerged rocks until my backside struck dry land. I had made a foolish mistake. Looping the rope around the rock thinking it would hold was mistake number one. My second mistake would have been to not trust the voice that was telling me to go check on the boat. That could have cost me and my friends our lives.
Read the following verse aloud and answer the question: “Where in my life is this verse connecting right now, and what revelations in my life is the Holy Spirit showing me through this verse?
. . . “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
(Proverbs 3:5, ESV)